Episode 5: You're Not Lucky, You're Just Good - Jessica Abel
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Answer these 10 quick questions to uncover the real reasons why you’re not able to take control of your creative work.

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Episode 5: You’re Not Lucky, You’re Just Good

Don’t be lucky. Be good. Manufacture your own luck with the right kind of preparation for an interview. We hear from Zoe Chace, Robert Smith, Ira Glass and Jenna Weiss-Berman on how to research, prepare, and execute an interview that will provide exactly what you need. Plus we talk to New Yorker staff writer Larissa MacFarquhar about her interviewing technique and her new book.

Listen to the show:

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If you’re subscribing via iTunes, please leave us a review while you’re there! It helps others find the show, which will make our creative community stronger. Leaving a review on iTunes is easy. We walk you through it here. If reviewing is just not your thing, please share this show on your social media platform of choice, or just tell your friends about it! It really helps us out.

If you’re looking for a written version of this episode, you can find our transcript here.

Let’s make great stories.

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Out on the Wire was a limited series, but we have TONS of great stuff in the show notes, and when they hit your inbox, you can pretend that the show is coming out live!
PLUS! Excerpt from Out on the Wire (the book), and more story tools in your email!

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Out on the Wire Bonus Pack


Check out the Out on the Wire Bonus Pack. Featuring all of the new interviews we conducted for the show, plus our soundtrack music by Matt Madden. It’s ten bucks (or more, if you’re feeling generous.) It’s a great way to spend more time with our fabulous guests and support the show.

Includes full length interviews with:

Stephanie Foo (This American Life)

Jonathan Mitchell (The Truth podcast)

Larissa MacFarquahar (The New Yorker)

Kazu Kibuishi (Amulet)

Our edit with Robert Smith and Jess Jiang (Planet Money)

Rob Rosenthal (the Transom Workshop, How Sound)

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Find us elsewhere on the internet:

I’m on Twitter @jccabel, Producer Benjamin is @BenjaminFrisch.

Besides our Soundcloud, we’re on Tumblr, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Take a look around my website. Check out the great comics on Ben’s website. Find out more about experimental comics on Matt’s blog.

Episode bonus: recording sound well

We scripted, and recorded, and edited this chunk of the episode, but then decided it really was too technical for the vast majority of listeners, and threw the narrative of the show out of whack. But for we few, we lucky few, we band of brothers…ahem…who care about audio quality…

Here are a few tips for how to set up and record with the broadcast-quality audio. Of course, this is far from a comprehensive guide. Go to Transom.org, and check out the Tools and Techniques tabs for much, much, much more.

There’s also a bonus for the bonus: some sage advice from Robert Krulwich.


This week’s challenge:

This week I want you to do an interview. Even if you’re writing fiction. (Remember my interviews with derby players?)

But before you do the interview, I want you to conduct a pre-interview or do research and map out major plot points and turning points. Create a list of questions. Think through “feeling questions”. Make your map. This map what you’ll post on the Out on the Wire Working Group, to get help building the best plan for your interview.

If you’re working on an idea story, where there is not necessarily a chronology to hang things on, first of all, look for one. But if that’s not working, figure out what questions are likely to produce major idea groups or plot points or facts. Search for anecdotal hooks you can use to help audience get through, and understand the stakes.

Put together your chronology, turning points, and list of questions for your interview into a post no longer than 300 words, and post it on the Working Group for feedback and further refinement before you actually do the interview.

Please, do NOT post your complete interview on the Working Group! We want to help everyone get set up for the best interviews, but we can’t do that if we’re getting 40-page interview transcripts to read.

Do post any questions you may have about the process, of course.

Next time on Out on the Wire

Join us next week for our You’re not Lucky, You’re Just Good workshop episode, and then in two weeks with Episode 6: Proof of Concept, where we finally put words on a page, find out what Buffy feels, and more.

Answer these 10 quick questions
to uncover the real reasons why you’re not able
to take control of your creative work.

Start Here